AAP Magazine #7 - Wild

The Medium Festival of Photography: Part 2

The Medium Festival of Photography: Part 2
The Medium Festival of Photography: Part 2
The Medium Festival, a four-day photography event with an engaging line up of portfolio reviews and artist lectures, in San Diego brought photographers of all levels together to inspire each other, collaborate and share work. As stated in my earlier article, I was invited to the festival to review portfolios, an honor and a treat, as a curator who is always looking for new work, innovative ideas, as well as trends and themes in projects. One of the subjects that I saw repeatedly at this review, (and it's a subject that has long fascinated me and never ceases to engage me), is that of family. There were a number of artists who presented their images of family, mostly wonderfully strange or dysfunctional, but sometimes, the photographer would stand back and document them like they were a separate subculture that they weren't necessarily related to. Other times, the artist would direct the photographs, almost like a film set, lighting, arranging, moving, and yet what is revealed is the inner workings of the family dynamic. Regardless of approach, images of one's family transcend mere portraiture. They are often psychological or they lay bare what is not often seen.

As an example, one of the great surprises that appeared before me for a portfolio review in San Diego was Meredith Amadee. While she is a native of the American Southwest, most of her family is in or from rural Pennsylvania, a landscape of heavy skies, barren trees, winter grass peaking out from melting snow, dirty vinyl siding, oh, and her parents revisiting their home land. Amadee's work, which I curated into a show called Family Matters at the Photo Place Gallery in Vermont (a great place for calls for entry), features her grandparents and cousins (with cameos by her parents) living in a place that is both foreign and familiar. When you grow up in a desert and then spend various seasons (the lush, green, barefoot summers and the diametrically opposed wet, stark, cold, colorless winter - unless holiday nativity scenes on lawns count for color - and perhaps you can tell that I grew up not too far from this place), the resulting pictures are both investigations into the unknown as well as studies of these people who are related to you, but how can they be? Amadee's work deals with questions about home and displacement and the complicated weight, tension and love that result from faith and family.

Meredith Amadee

Meredith Amadee

Meredith Amadee

Meredith Amadee

Another artist who's work I had seen in various places on-line, but never in person, is Susan Swihart. I had also juried her work into some shows, but then to see the prints in person was something else. And this is the experience you want to have with photography. When you hold the object in your hands and it's better than it was when you were clicking through them on a screen. Swihart was blessed with identical twins...and what better to do with them before they become teenagers than to photograph them relentlessly. As the mother of twin daughters, she has been observing the phenomenon of their connectedness since birth. As a photographer and participant observer in their lives, she has set out to explore the psychological components, the similarities and differences, of her daughters' union. Their realization that they are seen as one causes many different emotions. At times, they too will see themselves as a unit, but they will also wrestle with finding their own voice, identity and place. It is a complex, but pure love for the person that was created at the same time. Head to toe in the womb. Side by side in life. And Swihart wants to be their witness and chronicle their unique journey into the world of individuals.

Susan Swihart

Susan Swihart

Susan Swihart

Susan Swihart

And then there was the portfolio walk through on Thursday evening during the Medium Festival. I noticed a crowd of people surrounding one artist's table and elbowed my way through. There stood Leonard Suryajaya showing his family pictures and these were like nothing I've ever seen before. Recently graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago with his MFA in photography, Suryajaya has a lot going on in his pictures, to say the least. His story and his family are complicated. His work explores the intricate layers of selfhood in the context of his cultural background (Chinese raised in Indonesia), intimacy, sexual preference, and personal displacement. The artist works within various constructed and natural settings, directing his parents and boyfriend and family members, to explore narratives and to tell stories. To quote Suryajaya, "It is my ambition to use my own confusing background in work that expands the viewer's understanding of identity-both their own, and other's. And in the process, I hope to challenge conflicting conceptions of personal and cultural identities, intimacy, physical boundaries, gender roles, sexuality, queerness and freedom." I was enthralled with the rest of the audience to see his images and to hear his story. Definitely worth having a longer look at this absolutely unique investigation into ideas of family and self.

Leonard Suryajaya

Leonard Suryajaya

Leonard Suryajaya

Leonard Suryajaya

The dynamics of family, yours and others, is fascinating. Thankfully, many talented artists are documenting every aspect of the journey of life from the beginning until the end, and finding different ways to express the ideas inherent in the word family. My father always said, "You can choose your friends, but you can't choose your family." He was right, and yet I imagine none of these artists would trade all the joy, sorrow, pain, tragedy, darkness and light of their own experiences with their families for anyone else's. The history and the weight of our lives make us who we are. Thanks again to the Medium Festival for exposing me to these projects!

Leonard Suryajaya

Leonard Suryajaya


  Medium Festival of Photography
David Bailey: SUMO
 
 

More Photography News

News
Overall winners revealed for 2019 Sony World Photography Awards
Overall winners revealed for 2019 Sony World Photography Awards
The World Photography Organisation today names the overall winners of the prestigious 2019 Sony World Photography Awards. The coveted Photographer of...
  Read More
News
Results of All About Photo Awards 2019 - The Mind
Results of All About Photo Awards 2019 - The Mind's Eye
It was a privilege and an honor to be one of the jurors for this new edition of All About Photo Awards 2019. First of all, I would like to thank...
  Read More
News
VII in Sarajevo: Festival of the Image
VII in Sarajevo: Festival of the Image
From May 9 - 11, the newly formed VII Academy, a project of the VII Foundation and partner of VII Photo Agency, will host a three-day festival of...
  Read More
News
The Cincinnati Art Museum acquires Nancy Rexroth
The Cincinnati Art Museum acquires Nancy Rexroth's archive
The Cincinnati Art Museum announces a landmark acquisition agreement to form The Nancy Rexroth Collection, which will bring together over 300 rare and...
  Read More
News
LACP: Fourth Annual Fundraising Gala
LACP: Fourth Annual Fundraising Gala
The Los Angeles Center of Photography (LACP), a 501(c)3 non-profit charitable organization, will be hosting its annual Fundraising Gala on Saturday,...
  Read More
News
HOMELANDS: Life on the Edge of the South African Dream, photographs by Pieter De Vos
HOMELANDS: Life on the Edge of the South African Dream, photographs by Pieter De Vos
Homelands by Pieter de Vos (Daylight, June 2019) explores life in contemporary South Africa through the experiences of Donald Banda, a resident of an...
  Read More
News
Will Burrard-Lucas: The last images of the Elephant Queen
Will Burrard-Lucas: The last images of the Elephant Queen
British wildlife photographer, Will Burrard-Lucas, in partnership with Tsavo Trust and Kenya Wildlife Service, has photographed a remarkable female...
  Read More
News
Workshop with Henry Horenstein and Tianqiutao Chen
Workshop with Henry Horenstein and Tianqiutao Chen
PHOTO ROME is a two-week workshop focusing on improving your photography skills, honing your personal vision, and learning a bit about Roman history...
  Read More
News
Off The Clock Gala & Exhibition
Off The Clock Gala & Exhibition
APA Los Angeles is excited to announce the seventh annual Off The Clock curated exhibit of inspired personal photography. The exhibition is comprised...
  Read More
News
BOOK: Isa Leshko
BOOK: Isa Leshko 'Allowed to Grow Old'
Allowed to Grow Old is a dignified and affectionate portrait series of elderly animals living on farm sanctuaries. Prompted by an event in Leshko's...
  Read More
News
Summer Workshop 2019 with Arja Hyytiaainen
Summer Workshop 2019 with Arja Hyytiaainen
The five days homeworkshop at Pied Dore (16th July to 20th of July) situated on the countryside of Vendee, will focus on a ongoing project and/ or the...
  Read More
News
L
L'oeil Urbain Photographic Festival
At a time when negotiations for Brexit are more uncertain than ever, L'Œil Urbain will focus on the United Kingdom: Stéphane Duroy, Rip Hopkins, Matt...
  Read More
David Bailey: SUMO
 
Join our newsletter
Be up-to-date with call for entries, deadlines and other news about exhibitions, galleries, publications, & special events
 
AAP Magazine#7 Wild
 
Discover the 5th Issue of AAP Magazine
All About Photo Magazine showcases the winners of AAP Magazine Competitions
 
 
 
The Jules Maeght Gallery is a contemporary art gallery who seeks to engage the San Francisco community by infusing European artists, young and established alike, into a diverse, multimedia dialogue.
 
TAKES U TO THE NEXT LEVEL
 
Since 2005, your guide through contemporary art from a French perspective to let you make exciting choices